Indie Review: The Painting by Ryan Casey

The-Painting-Final-600I like to group the horror genre into two categories: Lovecraft and King. Lovecraftian horror is weird, often relies on creatures of a sort, and is terrifying because Lovecraft was a master at “between the frames” writing–he leaves just enough open to interpretation that the reader fills in the blanks, ending up with a story tailor made to the reader’s own fears. Kingsian horror is often weird too–sometimes really out there–but more often than not is rooted in a believable and extremely detailed setting, with natural dialogue and organic characters. It’s effective because it feels so real. In my experience, most horror falls somewhere under one or the other of these categories, but it’s rare that a book does both. Speaking to the Eyes Indie favourite Ryan Casey manages to pull it off with his newest offering, The Painting (The Watching).

King and Lovecraft had very different styles of writing, and The Painting works as well as it does because Casey is able to emulate both while retaining his own unique voice. It’s essentially divided into two parts, which I’ll term the House and the Quest.
The House, consisting of the beginning and ending of the book, the main character–Donny–is set up as a writer desperate to get his creative juices flowing. He’s stagnated on his current book, and comes to an abandoned house in an effort to find some real inspiration. In the house he finds a painting–a painting featuring six mysterious figures who seem to moving closer and closer…and who are definitely watching him.
This part of the book has a delightfully gothic flavour–it reminded me a lot of Poe in the way it’s set up, though it had a nice conversational feel to it rather than that author’s usual stuffy prose. This is an opportunity for Casey to show off–I’ve said before that’s he’s got real talent for creating tension, and it pays off in spades here. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and (in parts) disturbing. In a good way, of course.

But the real character of the book comes through in the Quest. (That’s a bit of a misnomer, but the closest thing I could think of to describe this part without spoiling it.) Donny finds himself is an unusual situation, and needs to find his way out. He elicits help, but the odds are stacked against him–especially since he’s not clear on what exactly is going on. The tension is prevalent here, but in a different way; it’s a sense of foreboding panic that rises to a perfect climax. It’s a great middle to this narrative, and Casey does a great job in making sure that the built up tension doesn’t release too slowly so that it carries through into the last part of the book.
The great thing about the Quest is that it’s very different from the rest of the book. A lesser author would run into some trouble here–it could seem jumbled or incoherent. Instead, the juxtaposition works in Casey’s favour, and acts to strengthen the story as a whole. One of the conceits in this story is that Donny is continually unsure as to what’s happening around him–he questions the things he sees, ascribes it to an over-active imagination, even convincing himself he’s been lost in his own narrative. The differences in tone reinforce that theme.

But here’s the thing: the Quest part of the book is completely different. It’s jarring, and a bit weird–but it actually feels more sane than the rest of the book. This is closer to Kingsian horror. The characters and setting are vibrant, living things, and one has no trouble getting invested in what’s happening. Whereas Donny spends the previous couple dozen pages frightened and trembling (and rightly so), he seems more in control during this part. And yet, he shouldn’t–for reasons I can’t give without spoiling. This juxtaposition, in my mind, is the best thing about this story. It brings the story from a good horror tale to something completely unique–something I’ve come to expect from Casey’s writing.

I think Casey has struck a delicate balance here. If the ‘flavours’ were reversed (King sandwiching Lovecraft), it wouldn’t work; the middle would seem like a fever-dream that’s so out there that the reader can just suspend their disbelief (and connection to the character) until things “get real” again. (Something like Lovecraft’s “Dream Cycle” stories, which never really sat well with me.) By giving us instead a potentially unstable character who finds a bit of stability, we question how authentic that stability is–giving an immense amount of depth to the character. It’s really very well done.

There’s only one thing I can really say against The Painting: there are parts of it that aren’t explained as much as I may have liked. Now, on the one hand, you want horror stories to leave something to the reader’s imagination–that’s why Lovecraft was such a genius. And I’m pretty sure that if the menacing shapes in the painting were explained, it would drain the magic out of the story. In point of fact, the mystery is as it should be, and there are bits that shouldn’t be explained. If I think something’s missing, it’s only because I want to learn more about the world Casey has created. This story left me with questions about what’s really going on, despite the execution and resolution of the plot.

Fortunately, this is only part one of three. The other instalments are coming–keep an eye out for the other instalments of The Watching. I have no doubt the rest will be as gripping as the first.

You can find Ryan Casey online at his blog, and on Twitter. Visit the Amazon and Kobo stores for some excellent reading material. 

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Traditionally Published Authors a Step Closer to Indies?

One of my favourite “traditionally published authors,” Kevin J Anderson, recently posted about what he called a ground breaking change in the publishing industry: a new service called Cunable, which allows authors to sell their published works as eBooks without going through a major distributor. You can read it here. It is indeed a big change, but what does it mean for the Indie Publishing Community?

There are those in the community who are much better versed in how Cunable will affect self-publishing, if it will at all–but I wanted to comment on it. I’ve started to see Anderson as a champion for the eBook format; he’s released a lot of his back catalogue as eBooks on his own website, and seems eager to encourage e-reading. It helps that he’s a major voice in the sci-fi and fantasy genres–he gives exposure to the format.

And now, he’s embarking on this experiment with Cunable. The creator of this service, John Grace, describes it as “Self Retailing for the Published Author,” and it seems very close to how Indie writers are publishing and selling their books.

Basically, Grace is concerned with putting money into the hands of authors, insteads of publishers. In an interview on Kirin Design, he points out that an author doesn’t get a lot of the revenue from their own work, and that this is something that can change. It’s part of what motivates the Indie Community, which gets a large percentage of sales compared to going through one of the Big Five publishers (if you can get there at all). Indeed, Grace admits that he was inspired by the “growth and success” of the self-publishing model, and sees it as a way for published author to “eliminate the retailer channel.”
Of course, Indies see another (and more important) benefit to self-publishing–we get our work out directly to those who want to read it, and can communicate with our network of readers. I think Cunable will fulfil this goal too, though Grace doesn’t explicitly reference it.

Grace would like to see the Big Five sign on with his service so he can distribute published works through his website, or allow authors to distribute through theirs. Anderson says that the 30-35% cut that publishers normally get from sales would instead be split between Cunable and the author–I’m not sure how happy publishers would be about that, but it does sound like a good idea for people who just want to write for a living. Really, it’s about taking the publisher out of the picture; getting the book directly from the author, no middleman, no fuss. Another reason Indies do what they do. I’m glad a person like Anderson is involved in this,  as he could give Cunable some real momentum. It will be interesting to see where they go.

But what does this all mean? The first thing that popped into my mind when I read the blog was that published authors are going to start flooding the market. Anderson has already dipped his toe in, and I could see others following him. And that’s good on one hand, because it gives even more credence to self-publishing and to the eBook format. But on the other hand, I don’t think self-publishing needs more credence–and the system itself could potentially change.

The funny thing about Community is that it’s (ironically) exclusionary. A community of like minded people will either exclude those who aren’t of “like mind,” or change its own definition to welcome them. I see the latter happening here; if Cunable takes off and traditionally published authors start joining the ranks of the self-published, the Indie Community changes. It may not be a bad change–maybe the traditionalists will join the ranks of Indies, something that’s already been happening for some time. This could only strengthen the community.
But–and this is the thing that I really wonder about–it could also mean greater competition. One of the hardest things about self-publishing is that the marketing is all up to you. It’s challenging, and I think it takes a special type of motivation to get it done right. But put those people up against someone who has an established name, and the competition gets a lot more fierce. I loved Anderson’s Captain Nemo, for example, but I think Lindsey Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge novels are better. An uninitiated reader given the choice between them might go with the name they recognise (though I have to give props to Buroker, arguably one of the most recognisable names in self-publishing). I’m not saying this is a good or a bad thing–but it’s something to watch as it develops.

The one big difference I’m seeing, though, is pricing. Anderson’s prices haven’t changed since partnering with Cunable. His current Zombie PI series Dan Shamble is selling for around $13 a book–most Indie books hover between $1 and $5, and given some of the great percentages Indies get, both can potentially earn about the same from each sale. But–and this is a big but–given a choice between a $5 eBook and a $13 eBook, many will choose the lower price. For Cunable, I think this is inescapable–they’re still distributing books that are under a publisher’s contract. But for a company moving into the self-publishing model, it’s an interesting complication.

At any rate, as I said above, there are those better versed in the self-publishing model who can comment on this development more eloquently than I…but it’s a very interesting development, and I’m excited to see where it leads. I applaud Anderson for getting on board, and my big hope is that this will encourage the continued paradigm shift for publishing. At the very least, it helps with distribution and accessibility–and in the end, getting more books into the hands of readers is what it’s all about.

Indie Review: Troll Magic by J. M. Ney-Grimm

Troll MagicIt’s no secret on this blog that I have favourite writers. J. M. Ney-Grimm is one of them, and with good reason–her writing style is unique, and engrossing. Up to now, I’d only read her shorter works; I’ve been holding onto Troll Magic for some time, eager to start but wanting to give it my full attention. And it did not disappoint.

On the surface, we have the simple story of lovers trying to overcome the obstacles that keep them apart, but it’s more than that. Troll Magic is a cunning exploration of a very human question: how does one follow their dreams, knowing all the risks that entails and without any promise of the outcome? And more importantly, when should we sacrifice our own dreams for those of someone else? It’s a big question, and one I won’t pretend to be able to answer. You’ll just have to read the book.

There are really three stories going on here: the Trolls (characters who suffer from Troll-Disease), the Family (Lorelin, our main character, as she come of age) and the Court (where Gabris and Panos try to find a cure for Troll-Disease). The meat of the story is taken up by the first two, as Lorelin is recruited by a man named Kellor to help him break free of a curse. It’s a clever reinterpretation of the original Beauty and the Beast tale, though it’s more complicated than that. It’s an exploration of how each of them have their dreams and fears, overlapping at times and always in concert, even when they don’t realize it. There’s a sub-plot here with Helaina (an unwitting and invisible servant in Kellor’s household) and her family, which follows a similar path.
The Court is almost an entirely separate story, to the point where I wondered if it would be best placed in another novel. The experiments of Gabris and Panos are interesting, but don’t seem to have a direct impact on the rest of the story–instead, they provide a sort of foundation that explains why Troll Disease is such a problem. But by the end of the book, the reason for this became apparent; it is a sort of running commentary on the issues of the book. It’s far enough away from the main plot that it gives the reader an objective view of the situation, and it works well enough that I wondered if it needed to be integrated with the rest of the stories after all–although bringing everyone together in the epilogue is a nice way to end the book.
With these three stories come many different characters. While the core cast is manageably small, there are a lot of secondary and tertiary characters. For an author, this can be daunting–it’s all too easy for some to become one sided and underdeveloped–but Ney-Grimm pulls it off nicely. Each character feels like they’ve got their own personality and quirks and the result is a world that feels large and well populated.

Where this book really excels is the presentation. I’ve described Ney-Grimm’s writing style as effervescent, and it’s still the best word I can come up with. There’s a light and lilting tone to the prose that doesn’t diminish from the importance of the story, and gives the whole book a very pastoral feel. It’s evident from her other stories that Ney-Grimm takes a lot of inspiration from Norse culture, which has a rich oral tradition, so it’s not surprising that her books have this sort of voice. Troll Magic feels like a book that should be read aloud at bedtime, or around a campfire. It’s very approachable, and because of that it does a great job of putting across the ideas presented.

Hand in hand with the voice of the book is its pacing. This was, for me, the most interesting feature of the book, and I’m still not sure how to describe it exactly. The best word I can offer is “ponderous,” though I don’t mean it with any of the negative connotations that word can carry. It’s far from a plodding or meandering book–the plot lines and character arcs are followed in nice progressions that take as long as they need to. Instead, the books feels like it’s in no great rush to get where it’s going, while wholeheartedly promising to get you there. As a reader, I felt like I was being led around the story by a guide; sometimes we’d stop so she could tell me about something of interest, sometimes we’d simply linger in a setting to enjoy it for it’s own sake, and sometimes she’d point and whisper “you’re going to like this, pay attention.” It feels welcoming and relaxed.

In fact, the pacing of this book reminds me in a lot of ways to The Lord of the Rings. That is an absolute tome of a book, but for fans of that kind of literature, it’s not daunting at all. Tolkein was a master at filling in details about his world in a way that doesn’t interfere with the story–but if you were to remove those details, the story would be much less than it is. It’s a long book, but the pacing just feels right. As it does in Troll Magic.

Another fascinating thing about this book is the way magic is explained. It’s very similar to certain Eastern traditions: energy is carried along lines in the body to verticies, through which it can be drawn to conduct magic. Troll disease results when too much energy is drawn through these vertices, pushing them off point. This isn’t very far off the idea of meridians in Chinese Traditional Medicine, and it’s natural fit for the world that’s been created. The antophoners (those who practise magic) even use a series of moving meditations to align and fortify their verticies–not unlike Qi Gong or Tai Chi. I find this fascinating because I’ve done quite a bit of research on these systems, and practice Qi Gong occasionally myself. I can attest that it’s both relaxing and energizing, so it’s not a huge stretch for the imagination that such a system could be magical in nature. And yet despite the comparison, this system feels unique to Ney-Grimm’s world, and fits so well that it seems the only possible explanation.

In the end, all I can say is that this is a book you’ll need to read  in order to truly appreciate. I have lots more to say about it, but nothing that can’t be better said by reading it yourself. I’d certainly recommend it. Troll Magic is a book to be savoured and enjoyed.

J. M. Ney-Grimm can be found on twitter, her own blog, and of course at the Kobo and Amazon stores. Ney-Grimm also have a handy reference for all her main characters here.

Reach for the Stars…but Don’t

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about ambition. Reaching for the stars. Going the distance and going for broke. Manifesting your own destiny.

Biting off more than you can chew.

This is going to be a more philosophical post than normal, so I hope you’re bear with me. I don’t have the answer to the question I’m going to ask, but I’ll invite you to offer your own answers in the comments. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong here–or even a thin line between them. But it’s something hanging around in the back of my mind for some time, and it’s nothing I can ignore any longer.

The question is: how much ambition is too much?

It’s all very well and good to reach for the stars, and I’d never encourage someone to not follow their dreams. But the pragmatist in me has to ask: when do you overreach your grasp? It’s pretty easy to do that–I do it on a regular basis, and I’m only now starting to recognize it. And I think it’s a pretty crucial question to ask. You see, I’m the kind of person who often bites off more than he can chew. I do it because I love to challenge myself, to think big, to dream. But there’s also a very large part of myself that is practical to the point of stagnation–that is, I tend to work very hard at convincing myself that dreams are just that, and to not pursue them if there’s too much risk.

I guess that’s part of the crux of this issue. If there’s no risk, the payoff can’t be that great–but the greater the risk, the more frightening it can be. In the case of this blog and my writing, the risk is accountability. I haven’t been keeping myself accountable for what I’ve set out to do. Faithful readers may remember a very detailed schedule I set myself to in finishing my Tapestry project, which has since stalled. A larger issue is my promise to review three Indie books a month, something I have, in all honestly, had a difficult time keeping up with. My recent lapse in posts of any kind is evidence enough of that.

So I’ve bitten off more than I can chew–I can admit that, and I can live with it. But what to do about it? Here’s the real question: when should one stop dreaming? Where’s the line between “impossible” and “I’ll try anyway,” and most importantly, when should you cross that line?

I know a lot of Indie writers who crossed that line, and I admire them for it. It reminds me that I can do the same–but at some point, I have to remind myself that I can only handle so much–which leads me to another self realization: I’m a fixer. Or try to be.

This means I like to approach a challenge and find a way to solve it–but it also means that I often take on more than I can handle by myself. To once again quote Dan Pallotta, it’s “altruistic martyrdom.” Being a martyr for a cause that doesn’t require it, simply because you believe so much in that cause. But in the end, it doesn’t get you anywhere, just leaving you with a feeling that you didn’t do enough, or could have done more.

So what does this all mean in terms of following your dreams? I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place; I want to think big and follow those dreams wherever they go–but I also want to live and walk in the “real world.” I want to reach for the stars, but I want my feet on the ground while I do it–and to some extent, it makes me wonder if the two are compatible at all. The easy answer is that dreams can be ephemeral; they’ll slip through your fingers if you let them, so don’t let them. On the other side of the coin, if you want security and stability in your life, you have to make choices that create that stability for you–it can’t be left to chance.

There is a happy medium here, I’m sure. You can follow your dreams and be practical about it–in fact, having a practical plan can be a sure fire way to ensure your dreams come true–but it’s important to have some self realization. As much as I’d love to be able to read three or four Indie books a month, it’s an unrealistic expectation at certain times of year because of my career. Devoting all of my free time to writing might seem like a good way to actually finish my projects and make them as good as they can be–but I need and want to make room for family. I think you can reach for the stars with your feet on the ground–but I can’t say I’ve found that balance yet.

You may see where some of this is going–a change in my blog schedule. I do read a lot of books, but keeping up with three Indie books a month (on top of ‘real life,’ other reading and hobbies) is challenging. I’ve actually found myself skewing toward short stories, which isn’t fair to the Indies who have written wonderful full length novels. So I’m going to make another change.

I still intend to review Indie works, but will cut it down to one or two reviews a month. I intend one to be a novel; the other either a novel or short story, depending on my available time. I’ll still blog on other issues related to Self Publishing, and will work “behind the screen” to build a bank of reviews for when I’m too busy to pound out a blog post. Hopefully, I’ll have fewer lapses in activity here, if not no lapses at all.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to ponder the philosophy of ambition. It’s all very well and good to say that one should follow their dreams with abandon, but at some point you have to wonder what you’ve lost because of that single minded determination. I don’t want to stop dreaming. But neither do I want to turn off my life for the sake of my dreams. I guess, in the end, the most important thing to remember is that whichever choice you make is a choice you makeand the consequences, either way, are yours alone.

The Descent: an Innovative Contest Where the Indies Win

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Kobo fanboy. Kobo was my introduction to e-books, and I’ve never tried another platform (beyond installing other companies’ apps on my Kobo), and I don’t really care to. I’ve found a nice home there, and that works for me.

One thing I really like about Kobo as a company is that they truly support their Indie Writers. Kobo Writing Life is a great program, as many Indies can attest. But for the most part (and this is just my opinion), Indie books are still somewhat underground–someone has to point them out to you. Fortunately, that’s changing quickly–and Kobo has an innovative way to help bring about that change.

J.F. Penn is well known enough in the Indie world that she doesn’t need an introduction. Suffice it to say that the author of the Arcane series is at the forefront of our industry, and an incredible representative of the Indie Community. She’s a powerhouse, to be sure, and a concrete example of how writers like us can make this work.  Now, Penn is working with Kobo to present a truly unique contest: The Decent.

The short of it is this: for three weeks, Kobo will release a short story written by Penn. Within those stories is a series of clues which the reader has to ferret out and assemble. This will lead the reader to a secret web page where they can enter to win a grand prize of $5000. Sounds like fun, right? Well, here’s the best part: all of this is part of a promotion for Dan brown’s coming novel, Inferno.

Okay, hear me out before you browse away from me. I can hear you now: this blog is about the Indie community, why are you writing about a contest for a Dan Brown book? Believe me, I had my own reservations at first. I enjoy Brown’s novels, but let’s be honest–they’re not the pinnacle of English Literature. And he’s about the furthest thing away from an Indie writer you could imagine. So why write about it here?

The reason is that this puts Indie writers squarely in the spotlight. Well, one writer in particular, but this is important: J.F. Penn, a voice of the Indie Community, is being advertised alongside Dan Brown. People who are lusting after Brown’s book will learn about Penn–and when they learn about Penn and her self-publishing success, they may explore more Indie writers. Even better, it validates our industry; if Dan Brown is in the big leagues and Penn is playing ball with him, it reflects very well on the rest of us.

Now, to be honest, there are those who will read Penn’s stories, click through to the contest without realizing who she is in the Community, and never give Indies a second thought. But there will be those who are intrigued enough by her work to explore her other books; they’ll see that she operates under her own imprint, The Creative Penn, and isn’t attached to a large publishing house; they’ll visit her webpage and see that she offers marketing advice for people wanting to publish their own books. And that is a direct open door to the Indie Community. And besides all that, the very fact that Kobo is associating Brown with an Indie writer in this way is very telling: it shows that they have a stake in the Indie community, and are willing to invest in us in a real way. This contest might be going out to the world, but really, I think the Indie Community has already won.

I thought about reviewing Sins of Temptation, the first of Penn’s three stories, but have decided against it. I wouldn’t want to inadvertently give spoilers that turn out to be clues. If someone wants to enter this contest, they should run the gamut themselves. I will say this about it: it’s decent, and left me wanting more. It’s rather short, though it’s intended to be. And it has a distinct flavour to it that is more than reminiscent of Brown’s novels. Which, I should add, I think is a good thing.

But don’t take my word for it. You can find the first entry here, and it’s free! The second entry was supposed to be released today, but was available online Wednesday–you can find Sins of Violence here. The third and final story will be released next week. This contest is exclusive to Kobo, however, so if you don’t have an account you’ll have to make one. The account is free too, and Kobo has a great store, so you won’t be disappointed.  Finally, if you don’t have a Kobo, keep in mind that they have several apps that can be run on different devices, or even on your computer.

So go out, pick up the books (supporting a fellow Indie) and spread the word–the more people who see this, the better it is for all of us. Happy sleuthing!

This contest is run and operated by Kobo Inc. You can find the full rules and conditions here.

A True Indie Success

Well, I’m back.

I won’t bore my readers with lengthy explanations as to why I’ve been silent on this blog, or ruminate on how to make the time, and how that’s easier said than done.  Much easier said than done, as I’ve learned in the last few weeks. Instead, I’ll doff my cap, humbly apologize, and move right along. You can’t get back on the horse without putting your foot in the stirrup…or something like that.

So, right to it. In my time “away,” I had lots of time to miss reading. Especially reading Indie work.  In such a lapse as this, it would have been easy for me to step back from the Indie Writer’s world completely, and let it run along as it does. In fact, I was so deep into my work that I didn’t read anything, let alone write. I’ve built a habit of reading and reviewing Indie work in the last several months, but like any habit, if you let it lapse long enough, it can fade away. You lose the routine.
Fortunately, in the midst of my busyness, I had a wonderful reminder of why we do this. Ryan Casey’s debut novel What We Saw came in the mail.

What we SawSome time ago, Ryan started a crowd sourcing initiative on Pozible, to raise money to have his book printed in paperback. It was very successful–his goal was reached in twelve hours, and he ended up raising close to double his goal in the end. He said it was an experiment, and it’s one we can all learn from–know what you want, find out how to get it, and just do it. It was also a wonderful example of how well the Indie Writer’s community works together. You don’t find this kind of collaboration in the Traditional Publishing Industry.

I contributed a modest sum to his campaign, and the reward was a copy of his paperback. Living overseas from him, I didn’t receive it until recently–such is the way of snail mail. But really, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been doubting myself lately in terms of my writing–never making the time, at a loss for ideas, spinning my wheels on ideas I have developed. I recognise all of this as part of a cycle I’ve been a part of for years–it means I’m winding down, and will soon put down the writing for years, until I get the urge to try again. Or, that’s been the pattern.

Receiving Ryan’s book reminded me of two points: that achieving your dreams can be as simple as pursuing them with abandon, and–this is the important one–it’s not impossible to achieve them. Not even close to impossible. Here was the physical proof: a genuine professional grade paperback novel, written by a young guy in between his studies at University. And this isn’t vanity press; he’s made some real money off this venture. It’s an excellent book. It’s got legs. And all because Ryan had an idea, a dream, and a plan to go out and grab it.

When I was Ryan’s age, I was at University, writing my never ending novel on a Palm Pilot with a fold out keyboard, whiling away the hours at coffee shops and pubs, completely lost in this fantasy world I’d created. I see part of myself in Ryan’s creative energy–the difference is that he went further than I ever did, and he grabbed the golden ring. I used to regret that I never finished my book, but now, I just see it as unfinished…for now. Seeing this kind of tangible result is a great motivator. It’s a reminder to keep looking out for your dreams, to keep moving forward. But mostly, I see it as a held out hand. This is a fellow writer saying “come with me, we’re going the same way.”

Now, of course, Ryan isn’t the only one who’s achieved some measure of success, and he’s not the only Indie I find inspiring. J. M. Ney-Grimm, Lindsey Buroker, David A. Hayden, Brian Rathbone, and so many others whose books I’ve been reviewing on this blog–all of these people are hallmarks of what makes this community great. Look them up on twitter, find their blogs, read their stories; you’ll find that each and every one of them is just like you. And if you’re not a writer, do all those things anyway. There’s a greater lesson to be learned here besides how to publish your work online. Personally, I think it’s one of the greatest lessons you can learn in life, and all of these people are living embodiments of it. I can sum it up in the words of non-profit guru Dan Pallotta: “You can have all the things you want, or all the reasons you can’t have them.”

And it’s really as simple as that.

I’ve got lots of work to do, and lots coming up on Speaking to the Eyes. Bear with me as I get back into the swing of things, but watch this page for upcoming reviews of J.M Ney-Grimm’s Troll Magic, news about a great contest by Indie juggernaut J.F. Penn, and of course, the ruminations of a writer/reviewer trying to learn his way through the world of Self Publishing!